Computer Science Illuminated, Third Edition


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ELIZA Program

Looking for a friendly ear to help you through a problem? Consult Eliza! Eliza is a computer program that simulates a therapist; she responds to your thoughts with probing statements or questions much like a real therapist would. For example, when you are one of Eliza's patients and write "I'm having trouble in school," she may answer you with, "How long have you been having trouble in school?" or "Tell me more." Eliza often uses statements that repeat certain words or phrases of the language that patients use to her. By mirroring her patients' language, Eliza simulates listening, and her open-ended approach to conversation has a natural feel not unlike conversation used in Rogerian psychology. Eliza's responses are such that in the 1960s when she was first introduced, many people thought that she was real!

Eliza was created in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT. Weizenbaum attempted to simulate natural communication through Eliza, and used a "script" of language patterns and corresponding responses to help create that effect. The reaction Eliza received was more serious than Weizenbaum anticipated: many people who tried Eliza formed strong attachments to the program. This concerned Weizenbaum who did not intend for Eliza to have intelligence, and the reaction to Eliza eventually drove Weizenbaum out of mainstream A.I. research.

Additional Links
You can try Eliza on a number of websites. Try this one!

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